Sunday, October 12, 2008

8 reasons I oppose Proposition 8

On our November ballot here in California, we will be asked whether we support a proposition that would remove the right of same-sex couples to enter into legal marriage.  As a heterosexual, married, Christian woman, I oppose this proposition for many reasons.  Whether you agree with me or not, I would be honored if you'd consider these 8 reasons why I'm voting against it.  In my mind, any one of them is enough reason to vote against this proposal.

1.  This is a matter of legal rights, not a referendum on how religious people should interpret marriage.  As a part of a nation built on ideals like justice and equality, I see no reason to restrict the legal rights of people to enter into the marriage contract with one another.   I would like to live in a California that affords rights, not one that adds clauses into its Constitution to deny them.

2.  This proposition has nothing to do with the rights of homosexual people to have children. Regardless of marital status, gay and lesbian people are already raising children.  I would contend that it does our society good to have children being raised by people who are married--that the commitments made in marriage tend to help create home environments that are more stable, especially because of the way the community beyond the couple understands what it means to be married.  Allowing same-sex couples to continue to marry in California will give greater stability to families, not less.

3.  Heterosexual marriage does not need protection from same-sex marriage.  I do believe that heterosexual marriage needs work in our culture--too many marriages end in divorce.   It is a challenge to succeed in marriage--I struggle with the difficulty of separation during deployment, with my own independence, and much more.  My marriage is not, however, threatened by the marriages of same-gender couples.  I wonder what we believe we're protecting marriage from?

4.  Our understanding of marriage, in the church and under the law, has been continuously evolving.  I celebrate that, as a woman, I enjoy rights to choose my own spouse (as well as the right to choose not to have a spouse and still own property) that have not always been available to women--certainly not always in our biblical tradition.  I also celebrate that marriage does not exist only for the purpose of having children.  I give thanks for the love shared between couples that have chosen not to have children, and between couples that have been unable to have children.  I delight in couples far beyond their child-bearing years who are able to marry.  There is not an unchanged understanding of marriage stretching back through the Bible, nor through our nation's history.  The Supreme Court's decision to extend the rights of marriage to same-sex couples is another change in this evolving history.  There is no one "original" understanding of marriage that we can preserve. 

5.  I have been blessed and enriched by same-gendered couples.  Both as domestic partners and as married couples, they have shown me what mutually-life-giving, committed relationships can look like.  Often persevering through immense challenges, they have demonstrated how married couples can care for each other and strengthen one another.  These couples have been a blessing to our communities, too.  I welcome ways that we can do more to honor committed relationships and let them be an asset to our communities.

6.  Opposing this proposition does not mean that clergy are required to perform same-sex marriages.  As a pastor, I always have the right to refuse to marry a couple.  Opposing the proposition does not compel churches to change their definitions of marriage.   Already, many churches have requirements for marriage in that church--such as requiring both spouses to be members of the church.  Churches can continue to define their own rules for marriage, even without this proposition.

7.  This restriction of rights does not belong in our Constitution.  In my mind, a Constitution exists to provide rights, not take them away.  

8.  I am bothered by the fear-inducing tactics used by supporters of Proposition 8.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that we move past our fears to dare to include more of the world in God's love.  I refuse to be convinced to restrict legal rights to members of our community because I am afraid.    I do believe that there is real evil in the world, and that this campaign is distracting us from work is necessary for God's kingdom.  Over and over, Jesus commanded us to care for the poor.  Never once did Jesus speak about same-sex marriage.   Proponents of this initiative are asking us to be afraid of the wrong thing.  We have a lot of work to do if we want to follow Christ's example of love for our neighbors.  This Proposition will not help us in that work. 

12 comments:

Lea M. Booth said...

You go, Molly.

By the by, did I--or Shannon herself--tell you that she's officially ordained in the Church of God now?

KristaBeth said...

Amen! Thank you, Molly, for the well thought out post. Living in the third state (Connecticut) to allow homosexual marriage (as of last week!) I'm sure I will have to answer many of the concerns you address. Peace, Krista

Ryan said...

I just wanted to say Thank You! I have been questioning my decision (if I had to vote) on Prop 8. There are members of the command who believe that just because the bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman, they are basing their decision because of that. I think it is beyond that. I think that I shouldn't discriminate against someone based on how they are or believe. But, anyway, thanks for your beliefs. It makes my case stronger.

I won't be there Sunday, again, but I am going to a little church up here in Seal Beach. It will nice, but I am thinking of Water's Edge.

feminist_mom said...

Amen sister..... why not lift up commitments as the main thing in society and the church! Thanks for your well thought out thoughts! I think underneath all of this is a homophobia and prejudice of persons of sexual orientation and gender identify rather than seeing their many gifts and rights as human beings - equality for all! All means all!

Sharron said...

Great post Molly. You make me proud.

A. Lin said...

Very nice post. It took me many years to figure out where I stood on this issue. And in this day and time, I agree with all of your 8 reasons.

msizzle said...

Molly:

Have you considered making this an editorial to the U-T? Your arguments are eloquent and well-stated. I didn't think there was room for me to be more impressed by you, but to misappropriate Reagan, "there you go again!"

mompriest said...

8 really good, thoughtful reasons...I'm not in CA but we have to vote on something similar here in AZ, a change to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman....even though we already have a state resolution banning gay marriage....

sigh...

I'm tire of the issue needing this much attention...it's just too sad...I hope people are persuaded by the things you (and others like you) are saying...

karen said...

I had the same thought on this as a good opinion piece for the U-T.

I also appreciate the thoughtfulness of these reasons.

Fear is a funny thing. So many people afraid of the commitment of two people who love one another. Where's the proposition to ban greed or war or broccoli. Wait, no broccoli ban, because God loves all food, right?

Thank you, Molly.

Mandy said...

Amen and Amen! Blessings, and thank you for being a voice for those whose voice is frequently silenced. It's good to have another sister and ally out there in the world!

kinnick72 said...

I almost wrote that I found your blog by accident, but I'm really not so sure about that. I think I might have been led here on purpose. I've been reading your blog for several months, but this is the first time I've left proof of myself behind. :)

You are the voice of reason when it comes to this topic. Here in Iowa, we're not having this kind of vote... yet... I worry that it's on its way though...

Thank you for your honest, fresh voice. Your words are a blessing to me.

singagirl18 said...

You put a lot of thought into a lot of the aspects of this issue in California and brought up some good points. But I just had some thoughts and questions on the points you brought up.

The biggest concern I had after reading your article was that, even though you were stating your case from a Christian perspective, you support homosexuality despite the fact that it is pretty clear in the Bible that God views it as an abomination and commands us to abstain from it. “You shall not lie with a man as a man lies with a female. It is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) and “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the women and burned in their desire toward one another… receiving… the penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:26-27). Maybe Jesus did not specifically make any new commands concerning homosexuality (though He did state in Mark 10:6-7, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh…” You also have to remember that He was speaking to very religious Jews who I’m sure did not struggle or debate over this area), on the Sermon of the Mount He reaffirms the truth of the commands in the Old Testament and simply adds light to specific commands that were ordained by God from the beginning. He stated, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls the least of these least commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps them and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19; I used the NASB but you can use any version and still get the same clear message in this passage.) One of Jesus’ main purposes in coming to earth was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. With His death and resurrection, the sacrificing of animals became unnecessary, but the rest of the Law, Jesus confirmed and it is definitely relevant to our lives today. But even if the Old Testament was not applicable today, the commandment to abstain from homosexuality is affirmed in the New Testament in Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, and other similar passages. You may argue that these admonitions did not come directly from Jesus’ mouth. But I believe that all Scripture is God-breathed as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and made profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

Another thing you said is “Our understanding of marriage, in the church and under the law, has been continuously evolving. I celebrate that, as a woman, I enjoy rights to choose my own spouse (as well as the right to choose not to have a spouse and still own property) that have not always been available to women--certainly not always in our biblical tradition…”
First of all, in Biblical times, women did own property and have a say in their marriages. In Numbers 27:7 the daughters of Zelophehad were given the possession of an inheritance. Also, in Genesis, Rebecca was giving the option of marrying Isaac and Jesus said in Mark 10:12, “if she [referring to the wife] herself divorces her husband…” indicating that the women certainly had personal freedom in marriage. Anyways, from that you continued on that you thought that “There is not an unchanged understanding of marriage stretching back through the Bible, nor through our nation's history… There is no one "original" understanding of marriage that we can preserve.” But I would argue that God did set an original definition of marriage from the beginning of time: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Gen 2:24, a verse that Jesus himself quoted during His time on earth, see Mark 10 and thus demonstrating that even though religious authorities have changed, God has not changed and His command remains the same.)

One of the things that I appreciated you mentioning is the blessing that same-gendered couples can be and that they can truly care for and strengthen each other. Though I disagree with the morality of their relationship, this fact cannot be avoided. I definitely don’t think that homosexuals should be rejected or looked down on by any means. It grieves me that many Christian churches in America hold these people in disgust and are unwilling to bless them, love them, and reach out to them. But I still hold to the fact that homosexuality should still not be approved of and viewed as wrong in the church.

In your second point you mentioned that it “does our society good to have children being raised by people who are married.” That’s true that homosexuals are already raising kids and there’s nothing we can do about it, but by allowing marriage between gay and lesbian people, we are making it look like it is acceptable and almost encouraging it. It would also be taught in schools as completely normal and ethical. But I think that Christians should be against this since it is clearly taught in the Bible. Even when everyone else accepts something that we as Christians know to be wrong, I believe it is our God-given responsibility to stand on what is right as a witness, but without rejecting or condemning those who don’t agree with us.

Anyways, I am very open in my views on this topic, but I believe that if you are really looking at it from a Biblical standpoint, supporting Prop 8 would be contradictory. Let me know what you think....